There is a quote I love from Winston S. Churchill: “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” I consider myself an optimist, and as a leader who is responsible for the employment and success of a small group of people I care deeply about, I’ve thought about this quote frequently during the last few months.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a traumatic and lasting effect on countless lives. And while nearly everyone has been affected, some of us have been forced to deal with the personal loss of loved ones, health, and even employment. Hopefully the worst is behind us.
Economically, a purely optimistic perspective on the market would feel off without the balance that a healthy dose of skepticism would bring. I get that. It’s easy in times like this to dwell on the challenges and risks that the pandemic has brought into everyone’s lives. We can choose to focus on the darkness and the accompanying loss; or we can choose to reflect on the tremendous good that we’ve achieved together. The humanity that I’ve seen rise in response to the pandemic has been inspiring. From front-line workers who risk their lives for others, to good samaritans who step in and help those in need, there is a brighter side to this experience. This is true of our current situation as well as any difficulty life may bring.
The greatest opportunity that comes with times like these is to step up. To step up and serve those in need. When the COVID-19 outbreak started in the United States, nearly the entire services economy shut down. In what felt like an overnight shift, schools were closed, restaurants shut their doors, and businesses were working from home.
We all had to adapt. In foodservice, the work is often performed as a labor of love. Often the best part of a foodservice employee’s day is making someone else’s. Whether it’s serving a hot meal to a child in need or just putting a smile on a hungry customer’s face, foodservice employees put the emphasis on service.
We see the service we provide in much the same way. As a result of the overnight need for social distancing, contactless ordering solutions like the one we offer went from being a “nice-to-have” to being a necessity. It was inspiring to see our team step up and serve our clients, who were in turn, stepping up to ensure the health and safety of their customers. I can’t tell you how gratifying that was for our entire team.
I am proud that we were so well-poised to capitalize on the emergent need for customer experience solutions. Over the last 10 years, Nutrislice has become THE market leader in our industry and as a result, there is no other company that has the non-commercial food service solutions and services required to respond to a crisis like COVID-19. As we emerge from these tenuous times, we are eager to support the future of non-commercial foodservice and reinforce our commitment to our customers’ ongoing success.
But it wasn’t our effort alone that provided a world in need with the required crisis response. It was the superhuman efforts of the foodservice heroes we serve. As it relates to K12 specifically, most foodservice directors and their staff across the country had to completely change how they operate without much notice. Their passion and drive was steeped in a single common objective: to ensure that no child goes hungry. Here are two examples of the thousands that took place.
With over 25k locations, serving more than 11 million customers, we are humbled to count customers like the Baltimore Ravens, Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital in New York City, Blue Cross Blue Shield, University of Colorado Boulder, University of Maryland, Vanderbilt University, Morrison Senior Living and thousands of K12 school districts nationwide. Whether they are managed or independently operated, Nutrislice has created a solution that works seamlessly with foodservice directors to deliver a world-class experience to their customers regardless of the operational challenges they might face.
On top of customer growth across the K12, Higher Ed, Corporate and Healthcare sectors, we have continued to lead and define the market with dozens of innovations. This year alone, we announced our Contactless Order Ahead™ solution to address social distancing guidelines as set forth by the CDC and USDA. Nutrislice Contactless Order Ahead is a digital, no-contact menus and ordering solution for foodservice customers and operators, and simplifies operations by providing the safety and convenience of contactless pre-ordering, delivery and pickup. This solution allows for flexible scenarios — such as multi-station meal pickup, community mealtimes in dining halls and cafes, or in-classroom dining.
In higher education, as CU Boulder prepared for back-to-school foodservice, they expressed to us the need for social distancing reservation seating, which would allow them to safely use their dining facilities as an option for students on campus. In a matter of weeks, we developed and launched Reservations for Dine-in™ to meet their needs and made it available to all our customers. The solution collects dine-in reservations for each guest by dining location to proactively disperse guest waves and dining room capacity. With our Reservations for Dine-in, on-campus students, staff, healthcare workers, nursing home patients, on-campus employees and more can safely enjoy meals together, bringing back a sense of normalcy to the dining table.
In parting I hope you’ll allow me to draw your attention to another big change. If you haven’t noticed already, we have some new clothes! In our continuing efforts to drive customer engagement and delight, we have developed a new, more modern brand, including an updated look and feel that reflects who we are and demonstrates our forward-looking focus. We are always striving to ensure every experience with Nutrislice further delights and satisfies our customers. We are proud to be part of the foodservice industry and are very excited by the new brand that matched the fun, connection-oriented focus of the people that work in this space. I hope you will see this sentiment come through in our new visual identity.
It’s obvious to me that the time is NOW to seize the day! Each one of us and our organizations can step up and serve one another in a time of need and transition. The foodservice industry as a whole is filled with so many caring and good people. I’m proud to count myself one of them and to stand with our team and many others in facing the uncertainty and the opportunity to serve with resolve. I hope that soon, this pandemic will be in the rearview mirror. 2020 has been quite the rollercoaster, both professionally and personally. But as an optimist, I’m committed to the opportunity this difficult time presents. And I am confident that we are on the path to being an even stronger, more resilient and successful industry than ever before. Onward we go!